The movie “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day” is a favorite in our house. In the movie, Steve Carrell as Alexander’s dad has a line where he tells his son to “steer his ship with positivity”. I use it on my kids all the time when they’re being negative or whiny or cranky. They roll their eyes, but they usually laugh too.
It is really, really hard for me to follow that advice right now though. I want to be a positive person, both in real life and online, but man, the current state of the world is making that difficult. I am just pissed off, like, all the time.
There are a few things that have helped me get control of my moods lately, though, and I thought I’d share for anyone else in my same boat in need of some sanity.
First, I’ve been listening to the podcasts Pod Save America and Pod Save the World. They are completely liberal-leaning, but so am I, so the content is right up my alley and the derision for the current administration helps me feel like I’m not the only person on earth in a constant state of what-the-f**k right now. And I’m learning a lot.
Next, I’ve been horseback riding every week. On the mornings when I ride, I don’t think about Muslim bans or racist attorneys general or education secretaries that have never been to public school or presidents who use Twitter to conduct foreign affairs. I groom the horse and saddle him up and work on my canter and jumps. I work physically hard for a solid two hours and when I’m done I feel calm. It’s one of the only times in the whole week where I feel that way. So, if you don’t ride, find your substitute and for at least one morning a week, turn off everything else.
Third, I’m trying to actively work on opposing what’s going on in politics now instead of just complaining about it. It’s a little harder to accomplish from England than if I were in America, but I am doing what I can. I’ve paid for subscriptions to the NYT , WSJ (both online) & The Economist (print & online) to support the press rather than just reading free articles online.
I’ve donated supplies for Syrian women refugees to the organization NuDay Syria using a link their Amazon wishlist. (I trust this link as I got it from a college friend who works with the group called Boston Friends for Refugee Support.) I’ve done it twice now, and it was too easy — just a few clicks to add the wishlist items to the cart, then select the Gift Registry address for NuDay Syria from the shipping address list. The supplies are sent directly to their New Hampshire office and then shipped to camps where they are needed. I can certainly spare a few dollars each week to make a direct difference to women in need.
I’m also making purchases more thoughtfully in order to support the larger companies and smaller brands that that take a stand about those causes I care about. I’ll be glad to support Nordstrom and Starbucks with my business. I also love these shirts shown above from Brave New World Designs — 20% of the profits go to Emily’s List, and this book about the Women’s March — all royalties go to Planned Parenthood. I can make a statement with my wallet, and I intend to.
All these small things add up to make me slightly less stressed out about the current state of the world. Although I still wake up to bad news seemingly every morning, it helps to know I’m doing my small part to make things better. It’s not enough, but for now, it’s what I can do.
Any other suggestions or ideas? I’m all ears!